The Elephant’s New Shoe by Laurel Neme

The Elephant’s New Shoe: A True Rescue Story

Laurel Neme, Author

Ariel Landy, Illustrator

Orchard Books, Nonfiction, Oct. 6, 2020

Suitable for ages: 4-7 years

Themes: Elephant, Animals, Injury, Rescue center, Prosthetics, Cambodia

Opening: “Animal rescuer Nick Marx peered at the injured elephant. He and Dr. Thy had been called by a patrol team to inspect a tiny male elephant found wandering alone. His name was Chhouk.”


When Chhouk, an Asian elephant calf, was found he was alone, underweight and had a severe foot injury. Conservationist Nick Marx at the Wildlife Alliance rescued the baby elephant. With help from the Cambodian Forestry Administration, the Cambodian School of Prosthetics and Orthotics, and an elephant named Lucky, Nick nursed Chhouk back to health and worked with a team to make him an artificial foot.

Will Chhouk’s new show allow the young elephant to walk again?

Why I like this book:

Laurel Neme’s true rescue of a young elephant will melt the hearts of young children and adult animal lovers alike.  It is a perfect way to introduce children to wildlife that are injured and traumatized, and the loving rescue teams that commit themselves to providing expert care.

Neme’s book is a compassionate and well-crafted story about the relationship between Nick and Chhouk. From the moment Nick discovers the frightened and hurt baby elephant he calms him with his soothing voice, sleeps with him through the night, feeds him bananas and slowly gains his trust. From that point forward, Chhouk and Nick become best friends and with the help of his team, they are able to bring the baby to the rescue center to care for his missing and infected foot. Once the stub heals, Nick works with the Cambodian School of Prosthetics and Orthotics to make a prosthetic foot or boot for Chhouk. Through trial and error, the team finally designs a flexible, padded, durable boot that works.  As Chhouk grows, he requires a new boot every six months. The school remains his “fairy godmother.”

Children will enjoy learning that elephants have feelings like people do. Chhouk misses his mother and family, who are the center of his world. “He has no elephant love.” Fortunately an eight-year-old elephant named, Lucky, nestles Chhouk under her belly. Once Chhouk has his new boot he’s able to go on walks with Lucky, explore the forest and become part of the elephant community. Today Chhouk is a teenager and remains at the rescue center.

Ariel Landy’s warm and emotive illustrations beautifully document Chhouk’s journey.  At times they are playful and show Chhouk’s joy when he’s able to walk. And they capture the loving bond between Nick and Chhouk.

Video of Chhouk and Nick Marx, Wildlife Alliance

Resources: Make sure you check out the facts included in the book about Asian and African elephants, the number of muscles in their trunks, their form of communication, and how much they eat. There is also an Author’s Note at the very end about Chhouk today along with photographs of his progress. Visit elephants at a local zoo. Check to see if there are any refuge centers near you that help injured animals. Learn more about the Wildlife Alliance website and their efforts to save elephants, tigers, gibbons, and other animals in Cambodia. For children over 8, there is a book I reviewed recently, Bionic Beasts by Jolene Gutiérrez, about a variety of animals and birds receiving artificial flippers, legs and beaks.

Laurel Neme always dreamed of helping animals. At first, she wanted to be a veterinarian like Dr. Doolittle or a scientist like Jane Goodall, but later chose to help animals in her own way — by telling their stories. She lives in Vermont with her husband, son, and super-smart German shepherd, who is learning to do the laundry. Learn more about Neme by visit her website.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

#Reviewed from a library book.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

23 thoughts on “The Elephant’s New Shoe by Laurel Neme

  1. Well done, Chhouk and Nick. Looks like that shoe did the trick. #kindness Once I had to wear a baby sock, because I was licking my paw too much. It’s not exactly the same, but…..

    Love and licks,


  2. Very intriguing story line. There seems to be a big interest in elephants based on some of the new releases. I’ll be featuring one of those next month in the MG world with THE GIRL WHO STOLE ELEPHANTS. THE ELEPHANT’S NEW SHOE would make a great lead in. Thanks for the review.


    • As would BIONIC BEASTS which I featured on your blog. I love elephants and love to learn how really intelligent they are. It is so important that we help them. Will look forward to your review!


    • This book is a picture book is all about an injured baby elephant in Cambodia. It is more appropriate for younger children. The other book, BIONIC BEASTS, is for middle grade students and focuses on five animals helped with prosthetics, including an elephant from Indonesia. There are STEM activities with each animal — sea turtle, dog, goose, and pig. Both books compliment each other.


  3. This sounds so precious! I was fortunate enough to see elephants in real life, and they are really amazing creatures! They’re definitely some of my favorite animals. I love that this book really shows how incredible they are and spotlights wildlife care. I would definitely have loved this book when I was younger, I hope other kids do too! Thanks for the wonderful review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I’ve shared two books recently about elephants and other animals receiving orthotics. Kids will love these stories. Lucky you! I love elephants too, but have never seen them in a reserve. A friend of mine visited an elephant rescue center in Africa, where there were many emotionally damaged elephants. She and her friends were chanters and they sang to the elephants, but didn’t go near them. Eventually over two weeks the elephants each began to attach themselves to the women. They loved their singing — it was very healing.

      Liked by 2 people

      • We went to an elephant orphanage! It was really sad seeing how many lost their mothers, but it was so heartwarming to see them being taken care of and hopefully rereleased! That sounds like a wonderful experience your friend had!!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, what a trip that must have been. If you get Netflix, there is a movie “Holiday in the Wild” with Rob Lowe. It’s about an elephant refuge and rescuing baby elephants. Sad, but fun to watch how they care for them and introduce them into the herd. Have watched that movie many times because it is so good!

        Liked by 2 people

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